Navakanta Barua's poetic works, He Aranya, He Mahanagar (1951), Eti Duti Egharoti Tora (1958), Samrat (1962), Ravan (1963), Manor Khobar (Songs, 1963), and Mor Aru Prithivir (1973), all reveal a symbolic, often surrealistic, often dramatic approach to his depiction of the gradual destruction of modern society. He began his writing in the 1940s, and his poetic vision, expressed through a career that has spanned six decades, has established him as one of the leading poets of Assam. Though his approach is modern, his imagery combines the Romantic as well. His subjects include the natural landscape of Assam, especially its rivers, and he falls back on traditional folk songs and folk dances, as well as the colloquial, for his meter. His later works, such as Ratnakar aru Ananya Kabi (1986) and Ekhon Swasa Mukhare (1990), reveal that, though the poet is faced with, and must accept, present-day reality, there are a continued lingering of, a longing for, the idealism and simplicity of the past.
One of the poets who well defines contemporary Assamese poetry is Nilamoni Phookan (1933). From his first collection of poems, Surya Henu Nami Ahe Ei Nadiyedi (1963), Phookan expresses the loneliness and isolation of modern man in a society that seems to have lost its moorings. Though his poems contemplate society, his poetry embraces the Assamese landscape and takes its themes from the natural and historical. His other works are Nirjanatar Shabda (1965), Kabila (1978), and Golapi Jamur Lagna (1985). In these, too, Phookan reflects on a wide range of universal issues such as love, life, and death. The style of his writing is at once expressionistic and symbolic, his language combines the sound of folk literature with the meter of European literature.
A contemporary of Nilamoni Phookan, Nirmalprabha Bordoloi (1933) is not only a remarkable female poet but one of the best-known Assamese poets of the contemporary era. Bordoloi's poetry is self-expressive and contemplative. Her reflections span man and nature alike. Her imagery is symbolic as well as reminiscent of the past. In many of her works, she has focused on social issues and redefined mythical heroines such as Draupadi, Gandhari, and Sita. Her works include Bon Phoringor Rong (1967), Dinor Pasot Din (1977) and Antaranga (1978). The extremely lyrical quality of her poetry has made them easy to adapt to song. Another important modern poet who has managed to sustain the strain of lyricism in poetry is Hiren Bhattacharya (1932). Bhattacharya's poetry utilizes the power of words to universalize even the most personal experiences. Thus one of the most outstanding features of his work is that it Is at the same time both intimate as well as revelatory. Bhattacharya is one of the most influential of modern Assamese poets. His works include Sugandhi Pokhila (1981) and Soisor Pothar Manuh (1991). Another notable modern poet is Ajit Barua (1928), who began his career in the 1940s. In early poems, such as "Tikha" and "Haturi," which appeared in journals, he focuses on social reform and expression of freedom. His later works, such as Kisuman Padya am Gaan (1982) and Brahmaputra Ityadi Padya (1989), are more expressionistic and symbolic. One young poet who effectively represents the contemporary trend in Assamese poetry is Samir Tanti (1956), whose works include Yudha bumir Kabita (1985) and Shokakol Upatyaka (1990). His poetic vision reflects on Third World conditions as present in Assam and the rest of the country India today, and in these reflections he shares much with poets from Third World countries the world over. Harsh realities often make these poets revolutionary and leftist in their views; but this is a leftism that is not necessarily aligned to any one political ideology. Among other noteworthy Assamese poets of the post independence period are Bhaben Barua (1941), in whose work Sonali Jahaj (1977) one can find a contemplation of the seasons and imaginative play on words; Hiren Datta (1939), whose works include Somadhirir Sowarani aru Ananya Kabita (1981); and Harekrishna Deka (1943).
At this juncture, special mention must be made of one of the most famous personalities of Assam, Bhupen Hazarika. Hazarika has achieved national fame as a lyricist rather than a poet; nevertheless, since lyricism has been a definitive quality of Assamese poetry throughout its history, the poetic value of Hazarika's works cannot be ignored. Bhupen Hazarika's songs and poetry have covered a wide range of subjects, from the intensely personal to the extremely political. In his works, he has used the traditional hymn, the native folk song, and his original music to interpret national and international concerns, and, by using them, he has popularized old forms. Though he is a popular public figure and a performing artist, his contribution to literature has been acknowledged through his appointment to the presidency of the Assam Sahitya Sabha in 1993.
Thus, it can be seen from the foregoing discussion that poetry in the post independent era, as in the case of the literary work of any period, is reflective of the times that were prevalent.
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